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Real Madrid Vs. Atletico Madrid, 2014 Spanish Supercup Match One: Player Ratings

Raul Garcia's late equalizer not only salvaged a 1-1 draw for Atletico Madrid, it provided a precious away goal for the bruising, plodding Atleti as they head into Friday's match at the Calderon. Despite an uneven performance, Los Blancos seemed poised to take a 1-0 advantage across town on the strength of James Rodriguez's goal in the 81st minute--until disaster struck in the form of a poorly defended set-piece. Follow me below the fold for tonight's scientifically tabulated player ratings.

Clive Mason

Xabi Alonso (5): The Basque master flashed a few of his trademark long and dangerous diagonals but was also guilty of a rash, clumsy tackle that earned him a yellow in the 39th minute. Alonso seems to exert a calming influence on the side, just by his mere presence on the pitch. Having acknowledged that, he was unable to effectively dictate the tempo of the match at his usual level and degree and influence.

Gareth Bale (5.5): Not as powerful and swift as he was in Cardiff, Bale showed erratic flashes of brilliance. He took a lovely pass from Karim Benzema and forced Moya to make an extremely difficult save in the 11th minute. It quickly became obvious that Simeone's plan was to allow Dani Carvajal space to operate down the right and the Spanish right back was initially unable to properly use that space to link-up with Bale, despite a few near-misses. Interestingly, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to have switched flanks as the opening period wore on, with the Welshman operating more freely on the left. When James Rodriguez was introduced, Bale floated back towards the right and interlocked promisingly with former Spurs teammate Luka Modric.

Karim Benzema (6) Big Benz remains one of the hardest players in world football to rate sometimes. He was largely invisible through the first 30 minutes of the match. However in Ronaldo's absence, Benzema rolled up his sleeves and started displaying more of the hard, unglamorous hold-up play he excels at. The Frenchman's highly-controlled strength and physicality were a welcome antidote to a rough-house Atleti side and he was able to unselfishly carve out valuable space for his more nimble teammates. His driving run at Moya was pivotal in creating Real's lone score.

Dani Carvajal (5.5) The tempestuous right back is another hard player to properly rate. His talent is undeniable and he used the space Atletico allotted to the best of his ability. Often though, his passing was less than precise and he continues to leave wide open swaths of space behind him when he dashes forward. A perfect example of this occurred in the 31st minute when Guilherme Silqueira recovered the ball, raced past Carvajal and launched a dangerous cross into the box that forced Iker Casillas to make a save. On the flipside, his beautiful cross into the box was the prime catalyst for James' opening goal. At the moment, his spirited recklessness seems to be both his greatest strength and weakness.

Iker Casillas (5) Unlike many, I don't entirely fault Casillas for Garcia's equalizer. I feel like he could have maybe reacted a little quicker (he seemed a bit flat-footed), but the marking in front of him was abysmal. If you watch the replay, Marcelo, Bale and others are plainly ball-watching in Garcia's vicinity. He made a number of solid saves through the first forty five minutes, but it's obvious that his confidence is shaken (maybe irretrievably) and perhaps that's why Carlo Ancelotti is doing everything he can to give him opportunities to restore it.  Ultimately this result won't help, but I think he's getting too much of the blame.

Angel Di Maria (7) The Argentinian was introduced to a raucous round of applause from the Bernabeu faithful and added his typical jolt of creativity and pace. Angel's appearance lifted the energy levels of the entire side and it's worth wondering what would have happened had he been introduced sooner.

Toni Kroos (6.5)  While not as dominant and influential as he was against Sevilla, the German midfield general was extremely solid once again. His vision and intuitive grasp of the flow of any given match is second to none and Kroos was able to control segments of this contest with high-percentage passes. He was quiet at times but popped up with a deadly pass to Carvajal that produced Real's goal. He has been able to blend rather seamlessly with Luka Modric and the two can only develop further from there. A scary thought.

Marcelo (4) He came out blazing, flashing his usual telepathic interplay with Cristiano Ronaldo down the left flank in the opening minutes. After that initial flurry, he shrunk from view and ultimately became careless and bordered on a being a liability.  He was certainly guilty of lackadaisical marking in front of Casillas on Atletico's goal. Perhaps he's another player still reeling psychologically from the World Cup.

Luka Modric (7) Mobile, versatile, fluid, influential...what else can you say? The addition of Kroos has allowed Modric to become more aggressive creatively and this was most visible in his forays into the space created by Gareth Bale on the right side of the field. He drifted upwards more and more and was able to pick out a few dangerous balls into the box.

Pepe (5) Largely nondescript, which for a center back is usually good news. This was partially aided by Simeone's conservative approach, but there were moments when Mario Mandzukic was able to get behind the defense and wreak havoc. The defense in general has been a little sloppy and prone to too many ill-advised passes during the Super Cup tour. There is certainly room for improvement.

Sergio Ramos (5.5) Ramos was at his maddening best.  Appearing everywhere at once when Atletico gained the ascendancy near the end of the match, making impossible clearances and sharply timed tackles. Prior to that though he was lucky to not be sent off for a silly punch at Mandzukic that a player of his experience and stature should never have succumbed to. Ramos's almost inexplicable lapses of judgement remain baffling and far too common.

James Rodriguez (5) Introduced at the start of the second for an ailing CR7, James became the first Colombian player to ever score for Real Madrid, an illustrious and historic feat. The goal itself took a series of strange bounces, first off Karim Benzema and then off an Atleti defender. It was a product of being in the right place at the right time, a cliche but also a fact in this game where one timely bounce can separate champions from also-rans. James wasn't bad by any stretch, but he was not much of a factor either. Truthfully he was more influential in Wales against Sevilla. He notched an important goal and his best days in white are obviously still to come.

Cristiano Ronaldo (incomplete) Cristiano was strangely silent throughout the opening stages of the game, an observation that began to make sense when a limp became more and more apparent as the half wore on. CR7 was ultimately withdrawn for James, hopefully as a precaution, but it certainly appeared that he was not functioning at 100%. This is something we'll be keeping tabs on in the coming days and we wish Cristiano the best.

Feel free to tell me how awesome or completely out of my mind I am in the comments.

Peace.

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